EARTH 2 ANNUAL 2
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Robson Rocha
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche. Ain’t It Cool news)
Yup, I’m back again to get in all y’alls face places about EARTH-2. I’ll get on my alternate reality soapbox in a minute, but first the platitudes. Tom Taylor has no proven he doesn’t just get alternate realities, he simply gets what makes an amazing comic. This issue will make you feel more for Batman (yes even despite the slight view askew vibrational differences in “canon”) as a crime fighter, a man and a son than we have seen in a very long time. While the character of the new Batman is new to Earth 2 continuity, this issue quickly catapulted him to the top of my favorites. I say this after screaming “Are you fucking kidding me?” when he appeared a few issues ago. I applauded the decision to kill off the holy trinity in Earth – 2 and giving the Golden Age Justice Society new relevance post FLASHPOINT. I did not want Batman, now moving forward, I don’t want to see this book without him.
We’ve seen this alternate twist on Batman before, most recently in FLASHPOINT. Yes, it’s Thomas Wayne under the cowl. However, in this timeline, Martha did not become the Joker, and Tom’s deviances run much deeper than the pursuit of the all mighty dollar.
What we haven’t seen is Thomas this authentically demonized before. Thomas is a junkie…and he’s still using while he is Batman (get to more on that in a sec). Personally, I’ve been waiting for a hero to arise with this much of a monkey currently on his back rather than a forgotten memory. The visible pain makes the act of contrition, like becoming Batman, much more impactful.
One of the reasons this resonated so deeply for me is DC editorial’s courage on this book to cement the age Earth-2 and all of its residents. We are given the point black exact year when Joe Chill “kills” the Wayne’s in Crime Alley (1979). We know the exact date that Thomas met Dennis Falcone and saved his life, the exact moment he met Martha, and the first time the three of them shot up some medical student procured Laudanum (1971). We are bestowed with crystalline accuracy the moment Batman, the true Batman is born (1973), and the day he discovers that Thomas faked his death so he could begin to pay for the deadly events his selfishness put into motion (1994). This issue made me realize how just damn important time is in making a story matter. Without it we are more trapped in amber than and regurgitation of plot lines could induce. If UNWRITTEN tells us anything, fiction is as real as we are willing to make it, and we will only make it real if it has the courage to reflect the same constraints we face day-today, of which time is the greatest.
For all of the naysayers who say there are no consequences because it as an alternate reality, I say the problem is with your system of beliefs. Consequence is merely measured by your own aesthetic distance. Also, I’d like to say the word “reboot” and clarify that it’s mere existence means there is no true continuity to any of the major iconic branded superheroes living in the main book titles. This is honestly the perfect place for anyone who loves DC, but has been put off by the changes in the New 52. The dark pall that has been cast on Earth Prime is absent from this land. There is still a Great Generation beacon of optimism to this alternate earth despite the Darkseid attack that obliterated Superman, Wonder Woman and OG Batman.
And after we learn that dark version of the new Batman’s past, that optimism shines through at the end. If anything in our world right now is hunky dorey, it’s the lives of the Baby Boomers. They reaped the spoils of the last great economic boom and they are in wayyyyy better condition than their parents were in their mid sixties. Now of course our parents couldn’t be Batman for their second careers (that’s why they clog up the entrances at Wal-Mart with their cute blue vests), but Thomas can thanks to a drug that gives him the vitality of Bruce for an hour at a pop. Discuss amongst yourselves the Hourman nature of this change. Personally I think batman is much more than physical prowess so I’m OK, with a more cerebral father figure to guide Red Tornado Lois and Aquawoman back over in Earth-2 proper.
If you were on board for the concept of EARTH-2 when it was released in the New 522 Second Wave, but for whatever reason didn’t jive with Robinson’s writing, there’s a new sheriff in town. I will caution though to NOT rejoin the EARTH-2 main title right when Taylor took over a few months ago. It’s too abrupt as Taylor took the book over almost mid-page from Robinson in the middle of the arc. I just finished EARTH-20 and I can say that’s a safe place. Yes, even with the confusing statements I just made about red Tornado Lois and Aquawoman. If you’re a DC fan of old, you’ll get it quick enough.
I usually wish my favorite new creators Godspeed to loftier titles or places of power within comicdom, but I am selfishly going to hold back that adoration for Taylor. He has truly created wonderful alternate universes for DC with first INJUSTICE, and now EARTH-2. In a time when ELSEWORLDS are a forgotten memory, Taylor is my crack dealer and I will gladly buy all the wares he wishes to peddle. If he can muster the story prowess from his well spring of creativity, DC would be wise to resuscitate a few more vibrational strings along the quantum plane.